City meeting

First United Methodist Church Pastor Shannon Davis leads the invocation as the Woodward City Commission and officials gathered for their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday evening. (Photo by Dawnita Fogleman)

Amid regular business and agreement approvals at the Woodward City Commission meeting Tuesday evening was tucked in a discussion about diversity concerns being brought to officials from community members.

Monuments around town have become an area of contention among citizens lately, according to officials.

City Manager Alan Riffel reminded the board this is Library Card Sign-up Month and it’s time to renew library cards.

“So we had an interesting circumstance concerning the library to bring our attention to the markers, the monuments in front of the library,” Riffel said. “Those grant markers saying of specific events that happened throughout the history of Woodward by year. It so happens in 1922, the two things that are listed was the first demonstration of radio at the convention hall, our old City Hall. The second thing was that the KKK marched in our Fourth of July parade.”

According to Riffel, that  portion of that monument has been covered with duct-tape.

“It is clearly part of our history, but not necessarily something we want to celebrate,” Riffel said. “So we are reviewing replacing the marker. It's going to be difficult to match because they’ve been there quite a while.”

Consulting the Louise Boyd James history of Woodward for 1922, the event was found and Riffel said that must have been the source for the monuments.

“We've had several different conversations with community members that range anywhere from, pointing that out, to do we want to put up a BLM mural,” Riffel explained. “One person wanted to paint a blue line down Main Street to show support for the police. We’re discouraging all that.”

Riffel acknowledged these things as part of today’s cultural discussion.

“Certainly we want to be sensitive to the populous on what is accepted or not,” Riffel shared. “If any of you have any input you'd like it provide me on that as we go forward on this, please do.”

From there, Commissioner Steve Bogdahn directed conversation to the newly installed decorative markers on 34th Street which apparently several of the commissioners have received comments on.

“Thank you (Riffel) for reminding us… those were in the plan and were advertised in the plan, back whenever that project was initiated,” Bogdahn said. “Also in that plan that there was decorative (markers) along the new walking trail on the east side along the front of the lake.”

Bogdahn suggested the signage is an investment for the community as a calling card for potential new businesses, industry and doctors that might be interested in moving to Woodward.

“We (AllianceHealth) actually have had a physician come and visit Woodward that's interested in coming here, because of the walking trails,” Commissioner John Brown added. “He had done his research and he was very excited to come to Woodward and see those walking trails. And even noted the fact that we had added on 34th. So I think it's just part of being a progressive community, to have good walking trail system.”

Bogdahn also wanted to remind people that about 75 percent of the 34th Street project is paid for by ODOT, including practically all the walking trail.

Riffel also mentioned recent vandalism around town, including the tank on Tower Hill.

“Somebody thought it was a good idea to spread by various names and descriptions on there,” Riffel said. “What they didn't know, is that we had cameras around. So that's the being followed up on.”

Riffel is also expecting bids to be coming in soon for solid waste services. A recycling option is included in the bid package, which he said there is a continued cry for.

“Our recycling options are just woefully lacking in Northwest Oklahoma,” Brown said. “I would love to see something besides all of this plastic and glass and recyclables going to the landfill.”

In regular business, there was some discussion over an approved resolution concerning funding pursuant to the CARES Act and the Coronavirus Relief Fund. The resolution confirms that it is the policy of the City of Woodward that all public safety personnel costs are substantially dedicated to the COVID-19 response efforts of the city throughout the ongoing State of Emergency.

Brown brought up concern that western Oklahoma has been left out of the equation to use funds for hospital expenses.

“Apparently, we're pretty immune out here and we don’t get COVID, right? But we found out differently that, especially in Texas County, they get it. And so we (AllianceHealth) cared for a lot of people with COVID without any funding whatsoever from those sources,” Brown said. “COVID patients are extremely expensive to take care of because they're both almost always intensive care. Some of them are getting Remdesivir. We got to give about 120 doses. Last week, it cost $62,000.”

The deadline for applying for this particular funding goes through Nov. 1.

Other items approved by the Commission were several use agreements:

Sports Complex with Woodward Public Schools Softball

Sports Complex with Woodward Public Schools Softball Homerun Club

Facilities with NW Grocery Getters Car Club

Facilities with American Volkssport Association

Facilities with Woodward Community Foundation and the Woodward Chamber of Commerce dba Crystal Christmas

The board approved a letter of engagement with FSW&B, Certified Public Accountants, PLLC for auditing services.

A continuation of lease agreement with Mewbourne Oil Company for a radio antenna was approved.

The Commission approved proposals relating to an agricultural lease on approximately 162 acres located in Section 27 T23N R20W, west of the Indian Meridian. According to Riffel, the lease is for $6,210 annually. Approximately 120 acres of the section is irrigated bermuda.

Trustees approved a playground resurfacing bid from Platinum Playgrounds to replace synthetic material in the toddler playground with AstroTurf-like grass. Riffel clarified that the synthetic material on the playground has a 10 year life and has been in place for 11 years now.

Agreements with APS FireCo relative to inspection and testing of fire protection systems, portable fire extinguishers and kitchen hood systems were approved.

The board also approved a contract with Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. for golf cart lease. Assistant City Manager Shaun Barnett clarified that this lease is for 15 newer carts instead of the 25 previously, saving money. The city municipal authority cosigns for this lease, but the golf club pays the lease.

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